When I was growing up, we gassed up at “service stations”.  I can still remember Mr. Anderson at the Chevron across from my school wearing a uniform with a little white hat.  Whenever a car would pull up for gas, he’d come at a quick pace, ask you what you needed, and start the gas pouring into your tank.  While he waited for the gas to finish, he’d check your water and oil, clean your windshield and, if there was time, check and fill your tires (there used to be little air and water hoses sticking out of the end of the gas islands in those days). 



I don’t know whatever happened to Mr. Anderson, but wherever he went, the “service” went with him.  Now, we all fill up our own tanks, clean our own windows (if we’re up for it), and pay with a swipe of a plastic card.  I seldom if ever check my oil, or my water.  I almost never check my tire pressure because I don’t carry around one of those gauges, and even if I did, an air pump is kind of hard to find these days.  As a consequence, I simply go on the belief (more hope, actually) that my water and oil are O.K., and all too often, my washer fluid runs out.  Worst of all, I drive around on sloggy tires.


Now sloggy tires are not a good thing.  First off, they wear out more quickly which means that we spend more energy making new ones, and the land fills fill up more quickly.  More importantly, sloggy tires reduce a car’s mileage per gallon of gas.  I’ll bet that more than one super tanker a year crosses the Atlantic Ocean just to make up for what sloggy tires siphon off the top of our national energy needs.


So here’s my suggestion.  Pay people a nickel a gallon to pump gas.  Let’s bring back Mr. Anderson.


Here’s what we get for our nickels:

1)      There are a lot of people out there who are really hurting right now — -good, decent people who could use a job in these tough times.  I think this would really be a life-saver for maybe a million or so people for whom it could make a real difference on whether or not they can make ends meet.  And what would it cost you and me?  Just a buck for every 20 gallons of gas.

2)      We’d all drive around with clean windshields.  I’ll bet you anything that it would end up preventing an accident or two in the process.

3)      Some of us would have our engines saved by finding out that we’re running 4 quarts low and the indicator light wasn’t working.

4)      A super tanker or two (or three) would have to drop anchor off Galveston and wait for a real demand for the oil in their bellies.

5)      It doesn’t require the government to spend any money putting those people to work.  In fact, they’d end up paying taxes on their new jobs.

6)      By raising the price of gas, it would add incentive to people to think about getting more economical cars, eventually causing even more tankers to drop anchor off Galveston.


I know this can all work.  I have a home in Mexico.  Down there, your gas is pumped by an army of waiting attendants who will also check your oil, water and air.  I also know that Oregon had just such a law for years that mandated this exact thing (I don’t know if it is still required there).  


It’s another one of those win/win things.  So let’s make it happen!




OK, I know that there aren’t as many air pumps out there as when Mr. Anderson was doing it.  But at least our new service attendant can still check out tires and tell us if we needed air.  We could all feel suitably guilty about it until we made the effort to seek out a pump and fill our own tires.  (Hint: there’s one beside the Mercantile on Boston Harbor Road).


  1. Kelly Brown says:

    I really like your post. Does it copyright protected?

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